It’s been four weeks since we started our small agency Third Wave — four weeks and a few days, actually — and it’s time to pause for a moment and reflect: Where are we now, after the first month?
Note: There’s also an invitation to our launch party at the end of the post ;)
One, the first few weeks have been very exciting, and I’m as confident about where this whole gig is going as ever. That’s quite a relief: Even though of course I wouldn’t have founded a company with two partners without the confidence that this is going to work out there is always a certain chance to screw things up. (And I guess there always will be.) So far, no screw-ups of any major scale have been noticed ;)
Two, we’ve been incredibly lucky (and glad) in terms of new business. After four weeks we have five fantastic clients from four completely different fields, and a number of new projects lined up. (Once our website is up we’ll list them all there.) It’s this diversity that I find particularly interesting, as it captures to some degree the wide variety of things we like to do. And I wouldn’t have dared to dream that we’d manage to wrap all that up right from the start.
So who do we work for? Two big agencies, Deutsche Welle Global Ideas, my old client Netzpiloten as well as SinnerSchrader’s Next Conference. In other words, there’s “classic” agency work, it’s web strategy for a broadcaster, it’s ongoing work with an online magazine as well as curation work since we’ll be curating an hosting the “social” track at Next Conference 2011.
Where do these clients come from? This is where it gets interesting. Almost all of them approached us based on former work or other relationships, i.e. all of our business so far is based on our networks: word-of-mouth recommendations of the purest sort. This is the biggest compliment we could possibly get, so I’d like to say a big Thank You! to all of you who’ve been recommending us. You rock!
Three, on to learnings: What are the lessons I learned so far? (Apologies for the clichés.)
Communication is key. There’s nothing as important as making sure that everybody is on the same page, to bring up any potential conflicts early on, and to coordinate. We’ve all been traveling a lot, so we’ve been doing a lot of our work remotely, via email, chat, skype, phone. This adds an extra layer of potential pitfalls – make sure to allow for enough face (or at least voice) time.
Define clear roles or responsibilities. We were told about how important it is to make sure everybody has a clear role (or clear roles). Particularly since the three of us have comparatively similar profiles (i.e. we aren’t one coder, one finance guy and one designer, but rather three strategists of some flavor or another) it’s important that someone wears a certain hat. We’ve been trying not to restrict ourselves too strictly here, so we’ve been working with leads: Every project has one lead person to hold things together, every field we identify as relevant has one (accounting; CEO-style paperwork; website; branding etc). These might (and hopefully will) change over time as we learn more, but for the moment this is how we proceed.
Prioritize & experiment. Paperwork and overhead takes longer than you expect. Much longer. And I expected to spend a lot of time on overhead, but there’s always something that needs your attention. Prioritize. Try to find a good balance when it comes to redundancy: You don’t want just one person to know about important things, but you don’t want to waste a lot of time on redundancy either. Experiment. Still, it’ll take quite a while until your paperwork is complete, no matter how well prepared you are.
Four, launch party! We have a launch party at our office this Friday (Facebook event). Feel free to swing by!